Beachcombing – a littoral treasure hunt

A walk on the beach can yield untold treasures

The beach on a wet, windswept day

Most people pick seashells on the seashore, and there’s that old tongue-twirler about some old sheila selling them, too. Often, it’s the smelliest, filthiest beaches littered with landmines of human dung that offer the happiest pickings, as long as you keep your fingers clean and your feet out of trouble. 

So it was when three out of four ogres went looking for waders beside an estuary. A little north of Kaliveli wetlands, near the village of Marakkanam north of Pondicherry, we found ourselves on a very picturesque beachhead. It was a blustering windswept day that threatened to blow our hopes away. 

It was a chaotic stretch of beach but fairly empty but for a few fisherfolk kids playing. The weather being most inclement, fishing boats were moored like cars jammed into a parking lot on a Saturday evening. A wash of seaweed stained the shore for its entire length and the sea spat gnashing waves in contempt. Occasionally a drift of rain carried to us like a fine spray and our optics, like the sand crabs scurrying about, were ever ready to duck back into their shelter. 

But there’s that thing that Lady Luck does once in a way even when she’s haunted by meteorological hormones – she smiles. 

But what a magnificent treasure trove it turned out to be! There was not a stretch of beach that wasn’t littered with the bric a brac of the ocean. We felt like little boys all over again. And that’s why the rest of our littoral treasure hunt is presented in pictures. I must add that but for a couple of sea urchin shells, we took no souvenirs. And yes, we left footprints.

A stain of spent seaweed

Pandora’s vanity bag must have burst at the seams

Sea jewels, some still fetid from the death of their occupants. These shells will be washed, dried, decked up and sold.

What’s left of a crab’s shell is still ornamental

A conch with the texture of wood

Another with the molluscan foot still intact – it must be alive

I just loved the ‘teeth’ on this one

Talking of which, there were some return gifts. The jaw of some old dog after the sea licked it clean.

So many stab wounds and no coroner willing to do an autopsy

A sea urchin’s remains, like a flower on driftwood. Somebody had placed it there, though.

Here’s how we found them. I was drawn to the perfect symmetry of the foam-green globes

An anemone, I think. It was hard and calcareous already having been out of the water for a long time. And the spines were coming off.

It took me ages to spot this crab and then longer to locate it in the viewfinder. All the while I stayed put, and so did he.

On a sandbar about a kilometre from the beach, this little dragonfly busied about trying to be obscure

I was surprised to see a frog here. Or is that a toad?

This Common Jezebel drank of the few blossoms that fringed the land

It seems we were not the only ones looking for treasures

This little guy just scooped up the crab as he was walking by. After the photo op, off went both. I wonder if the crab was eaten eventually.



  • Beej

    Founder-editor of The Green Ogre, Beej began this blog as a solo writing project in 2006. A communications professional, he has worked as a corporate storyteller, journalist, travel writer, cartoonist and photo-blogger. He was formerly the founder-editor of Yahoo India's travel site.

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